By Stephen Dafoe
Legal – The dreams of riding along the half-pipe didn’t exactly move any closer to reality Aug. 16, but Legal’s mayor and councillors remain committed to making it happen as soon as possible.
Legal Town Council had promised the Legal Youth Committee that it would match dollars on a Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant applied for through the province. However, the application was rejected in mid-July on the grounds that funding requests in the region outpaced funds available through the program.
Despite the funding disappointment to the town’s teens, council heard that the committee is still committed to investing $5,000 of the money they’ve raised for the proposed facility.
Yvonne Cyr, speaking on behalf of the youth committee, told council that the town’s young people were screaming for something to do in Legal and that a skate park would offer auxiliary benefits to the community as a whole. From an economic standpoint, skate parks tend to bring travelling recreationalists to the town to spend money. From a social perspective, Cyr said in addition to providing Legal’s young people with a healthy recreational activity, skate parks tend to reduce drug use among teens and also mitigates damage to private and public property.
The committee liaison said skate boarding has been prohibited in many parts of town and that young people are even being asked not to gather on benches near local businesses.
“This is giving our youth the impression they are not welcome in their community,” she said.
But council wanted to send a strong message back to the town’s youth, letting them know that even though the project won’t be going ahead immediately, it was not being abandoned.
“I want the kids to know council is still on their side,” said Legal Mayor Albert St. Jean, adding it was essential for the town to win the grant approval to be able to match dollars on the project. “There’s lots of stuff we could do without the grant.”
As originally envisioned, the skate park would carry a $210,000 price tag. Legal had applied for $105,000 through the province and was willing to add $100,000 of its own money to the student’s $5,000 contribution to complete the other half of the cost.
Although the matter is set to come before council at its Sept. 7 meeting, there is a possibility of starting the project on a smaller scale. The cost of the base pad for a park is $20,000, and it was felt the park could be expanded upon as funds become available. However, council has not ruled out taking another run at CFEP grant money. The deadline for the quarterly CFEP grant is Sept. 30, well after council’s next meeting.
Legal’s Family and Community Support Services Coordinator Ruthann Weeks said it was the desire for a skate park that led to the formation of the Legal Youth Committee back in 2008. At the time, a number of Legal’s young people approached the Town’s then CAO asking what they needed to do. The CAO’s answer was to prove they really wanted one. Weeks said the students began collecting signatures on a petition and fundraising towards their goal.
To date the Legal Youth Committee has raised almost $7,000, but plans to use some of the money to help start a youth centre in the basement of Club 60 Roses.